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History

Jan Le Witt (b.1907; d.1991)

Born in Czestochowa, Poland, Jan Le Witt was self taught and experimented with thirteen professions before becoming a freelance artist in 1927. He belonged to a small group of avant-garde artists and had his first one-man exhibition of graphic work at the Society of Fine Arts, Warsaw, in 1930. In 1933 he met George Him and moved to London in 1937. Under the name Lewitt-Him, both worked for the MOI in the Second World War. Le Witt married Alina Prusicka in 1939, with whom he had one son, and became a British citizen in 1947. The partnership with Him dissolved in 1954, after which Le Witt abandoned graphic design for painting. A monograph on his work was published in 1971.

Sadler’s Wells Company benefited from Le Witt’s theatre décor, and Le Witt also designed for Venetian glass and Aubusson tapestries. In 1947 and 1953, one-man exhibitions of his paintings were held at the Zwemmer Gallery, London and in 1951 at the Hanover Gallery, also in London. His work was also shown at the Galleria San Marco, Rome, 1952, the AAA Gallery, New York, 1954, the Galleria Apollinaire, Milan, 1957, and the various exhibitions of AGI. He exhibited at the Tate Gallery, 1950 and 1952, and at the Premio Lissone, 1955. He was awarded a gold medal at the Triennale in 1954 and was an honorary member of the Centro Internazionale dell’Arte del Vetro.

Information taken from: Darracott, J. and Loftus, B., Second World War Posters, 1981 (1972), p.44, Amstutz, W., Who’s Who in Graphic Art, 1962, p.249, London Transport Museum Database, February 2000

Categories
History

Lewitt-Him

Lewitt-Him was a collaborative design partnership between the two Polish-born artists Jan LeWitt and George Him. The two artists met in a café in Warsaw in 1933 and a ‘friendship sprang up between them and they were so impressed with the similarity of their ideals and ideas that they finally decided to work together as a team.’ They discovered that the work that they produced between them was quite different (and superior to) the work that they produced individually. They developed a ‘keen sense of comedy and burlesque’. They worked in Poland where the advertising profession was less specialised than in the UK and covered not only their own designs, but their own copy-writers and typographers. They moved to London in 1937, when their work was shown in London by Lund-Humpries, and national advertising commissions followed.

During the Second World War Lewitt-Him designed posters, in particular for ROSPA, the GPO and the MOF. Art and Industry noted that their work ‘enjoyed a marked success’, with their best efforts ’embracing a humorous motive’, although they were ‘versatile’. Early designs for the Ministry of Information were never used, although the Polish Ministry of Information used their designs extensively. By late 1942, their main work was illustrating children’s books, although they continued with poster work and designed murals for war factory canteens. In 1948 a diploma was awarded to Jan Le Witt and George Him at the International Poster Exhibition for a poster they designed for LT. Post-war, they designed murals for the Festival of Britain (1951), and it’s Guinness Clock. Their work was exhibited in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in 1948, and in New York and Philadelphia in 1953. In 1946, their work was discussed in Art and Industry, particularly the relation of their work to surrealism, and again in September 1953. In 1954 the partnership was dissolved.

Information collated from: Darracott, J., and Loftus, B., Second World War Posters, 1972 (1981 edition), p.44; ‘Lewitt-Him – A Collaboration of Ideals and Ideas’, Art and Industry, Vol. 33, No.194, August 1942, pp.38-41; ‘Jan Le Witt’, Poster Database, LTM, accessed February 2000; Livingston, A., and Livingston, I., The Thames and Hudson Encyclopaedia of Graphic Design and Designers, 1992, p.120; Amstutz, W., Who’s Who in Graphic Art?, 1962, p.242, 249; Williams-Ellis, A., ‘Lewitt-Him and the Uses of Nonsence’, Art and Industry, Vol. 42, No. 250, April 1947, pp.104-111; de Holden Stone, J., ‘Pair of Aces’, Art and Industry, Vol. 55, No.327, September 1953, pp.82-89